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Prairie Mountain Health Welcomes New CEO

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Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) has a new chief executive officer (CEO).

Brian Schoonbaert takes over the position from Penny Gilson, who retired, May 31. Gilson served as head of the health region for nine years.

Schoonbaert was the former CEO of Brandon Regional Health Authority (BRHA) before provincial health authority amalgamations in 2012 combined the BRHA with the Assiniboine and Parkland RHAs. Following the merger, he held a number of other executive roles within PMH.

Since 2018, Schoonbaert has been participating in and leading several projects related to the provincial Transformation Management Office.

Schoonbaert is excited for the opportunity to rejoin PMH. “I am looking forward to reconnecting and engaging once again with the staff at PMH after my secondment to the Transformation Management Office,” he said. “I enter this new role knowing that I am not performing it alone, but rather alongside an incredible team of 7,500 individuals who, like me, are dedicated and committed to providing quality health care services to the residents of PMH.”

According to acting PMH board chair Mark Frison, advancing the region’s strategic goals, objectives, health planning processes and both staff and community engagement opportunities will continue to move forward under Schoonbaert’s leadership.

“Brian comes with the requisite wealth of experience related to both the provincial health care sector and within the health region,” Frison said. “We are indeed fortunate to have him take the lead of our organization and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Schoonbaert holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree and CPA (Chartered Accountant) designation. And he is no stranger to the inner workings of PMH. From 2012 to 2018, he was the PMH vice-president of Finance, (CFO), Capital Support Services and Chief Operating Officer of Brandon Regional Health Centre.

He also held vice-president of Finance and Information Services roles from 1994 to 2011 for both Brandon General Hospital and the BRHA.

Coming back and taking the lead the region during a pandemic could present some challenges although Schoonbaert will focus his attention on those challenges and supporting the good work already underway to respond to the pandemic.

“My immediate focus and attention as CEO will be to get up to speed very quickly on the outstanding issues related to the pandemic and assist the region in any way I can to get us through this third wave,” he said. “We know there is a strain on the health system and with more and more individuals receiving the vaccines and following all the public health orders, together, we can get through this. I believe the region has so far done an admirable job responding to the pandemic and I want to ensure that we carry that through to the end.”

In a news release announcing Schoonbaert’s hiring, the PMH board expressed appreciation for Gilson’s commitment, dedication and strong leadership as CEO of the health region and wished her all the best during retirement.